Following his election as Mayor of Elmbridge at the Annual Meeting of the Council on Wednesday 19 May, Councillor Tony Popham held his charity launch via Zoom on Thursday 20 May. Councillor Tony Popham has chosen to support The Grace Dear Trust for his Mayoral term of office.
Judy Sarsby writes:
In a year like no other, when so many are struggling to stay positive, it was encouraging to hear that the new Mayor has chosen a charity that reflects the needs of the young people of the borough struggling with mental health. The Grace Dear Trust is a powerful and active mental health charity set up in the memory of a sister and daughter, Grace, lost to suicide in February 2017 aged just 27. Grace had been suffering with depression and anxiety from the age of 13. The aim of Grace’s father, Graham, and sister, Hope, is to help save the lives of other young people suffering with mental health issues. Mental health is still seriously underfunded and requires more effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Their slogan “it’s ok not to be ok” communicates the message that we can all have feelings of depression, but that we can reach out so that we do not have to suffer alone as there is help available. Many young people struggle to understand their own feelings and don’t know how to talk about them; this can lead to them suffering in silence without seeking the help they need. The charity supported by the Mayor, who lives in Hersham and has a teenage daughter, raises money to deliver presentations to schools and organisations on the importance of good mental health. The charity partners with local schools and clubs, providing mental health training courses and sets up strategies to support club members and pupils. They have embraced the pairing of sport with good mental health and also set up a young persons’ theatre project where they talk about their feelings through creative and performing arts. The Grace Dear Trust is certainly an appropriate cause in a year when showing empathy, listening and community spirit are of optimum importance to the young.
I am writing to let you know about one aspect of the ongoing work of local Liberal Democrats in these challenging times. A major issue being faced by many local families at the moment is the lack of access to laptops. From my time as a teacher I am only too well aware of the detrimental effect that the government’s failure to plan for home schooling, compounded with their inability to provide sufficient resources, is having on the education of many children. To help alleviate this situation we recently launched The Elmbridge Laptop Appeal, reaching out to local residents and businesses, asking them if they have unused laptops that could be donated.
Thanks to the very generous responses we’ve received already there have been 10 laptops donated to an Elmbridge secondary school. And more laptops are on their way ready to go out to other local schoolchildren across Elmbridge. We have been overwhelmed by the support of local people and local businesses to this appeal, so quickly pledging computers or making generous financial donations.
We have had a wonderful response so far, but we would like to do more: if you or your business have laptops, or wish to donate to the campaign, please do get in touch. The cost of a brand new, relevant specification machine is around £500, but we have managed to secure a limited number of refurbished units for £260 each. If you can donate an old laptop, or if you would like to donate money towards the campaign to buy either refurbished or new laptops, please see our website (elmbridgelibdems.org.uk) for more information on the Elmbridge Laptop Appeal. All donations from this campaign will go directly to buying laptops for school children. Your generosity will provide reliable access to education for children at home during this lockdown who don’t have the necessary equipment.
Surrey County Council has decided to pilot “School Streets”. A school street is where the road outside a school is closed to motor vehicles during school drop-off and pick-up times.
In practice, this means the road is closed twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes. The restriction usually applies to both school traffic and through traffic. Exemptions are made for residents living in that street and for blue badge holders.
Surrey hopes that the pilots will encourage active travel, improve air quality and promote road safety. School streets are also effective for enabling social distancing outside schools. Surrey County Council has approved the principle of a school street pilot at Heath End School in Farnham and is inviting nominations for other school streets elsewhere in Surrey.
There are also plans to measure air quality around a sample of schools in all eleven Surrey districts and boroughs. The measurement would be at child-head height to identify the level of air pollution children are being exposed to at school drop-off and pick-up.
School streets started in Italy in 1989 and were first introduced to the UK in 2015 when schemes began in Scotland. Camden was the first site in London in 2017. Today there are over 130 school streets in Britain.
Evaluations have shown that motorised traffic not only decreases on the school street where the scheme has been implemented, but also on surrounding streets. This suggests a change in behaviour with people swapping mode of transport to active travel.
It remains to be seen whether residents in Weybridge would welcome the introduction of school streets in our town. Queuing traffic is a frequent feature of life in Weybridge and some may fear school streets would create more problems. It very much depends on the layout and context of each individual location. Please let us know what you think.
The coronavirus has had a significant impact on all of us and we are desperate to eradicate it. But despite all the negative impact, can we maintain the positives that we have seen?
Many cars have been idle in the driveway and people have started walking and cycling both for their daily shopping and for their daily exercise; this has a positive impact on both the health of the individual and on the climate. There are many stories of how people are enjoying the clearer skies, whilst others talk about how they enjoy hearing birdsong now that the noise from traffic and air travel has significantly reduced.
For many years Weybridge High Street has had particularly poor air quality due to traffic congestion. Last year it was selected as one of two places in Elmbridge (the other being Hampton Court) for continuous air quality monitoring and recent figures show that average levels of NO2 have fallen from previously high concentrations of up to 55 μg/m3 to approximately 24 μg/m3 by the end of April. (National policy is that nitrogen dioxide concentrations should not regularly exceed 40 μg/m3.)
Wouldn’t it be good if our renewed awareness of our environment was translated into long term action for sustainable improvements? Can we maintain the current air quality when the emergency measures start to be lifted? Should we introduce an Elmbridge low emissions zone? Can we plant more trees and hedges? Will Surrey County Council install more cycle lanes and change all buses to be electric or fuel-cell powered? Can we encourage more children to walk or cycle to school?
On Thursday 4th May, you have a chance to elect a new councillor to represent Weybridge on Surrey County Council.
Your local Liberal Democrat candidate is long term Weybridge resident Vicki Macleod.
You may know Vicki from her work in our local community, perhaps from her five years chairing the Friends of The Weybridge Centre charity. or as a school governor.
Vicki‘s priority is to give Weybridge a stronger voice for better delivery of the services local people need, including:
Better maintained and safer local roads and pavements
Local school places for Weybridge children
Responsible budget management by Surrey County Council
Many people see Surrey County Council as remote and inefficient with its history of mismanagement. Vicki will work with other councillors to put pressure on the administration for more effective financial management and for budgets that reflect local needs. Her longer term aim is to see some of the services currently run by Surrey brought into local Elmbridge control.
The Liberal Democrats along with its allies in the new coalition administration agreed in cabinet today to proceed with studies to facilitate a path/cycleway alongside the Heath from the station to Brooklands Lane. This land is held in common and is therefore heavily protected so any proposal with have to be very sensitive to the green space.
Campaigners have been seeking such a development for over two decades and there is still more work to come.
Following the disturbing lack of engagement of residents, businesses and other interested parties by Surrey in its review of parking in Weybridge, your local Lib Dems decided to host a consultation meeting in the Weybridge Community Centre, Churchfields Place at 8:00pm, on Thursday, 14 July.
Discussion will include off-street and on-street parking policies; safety, parking on main roads; the balance between shoppers, workers and residents; and, the most effective way to ration available spaces. It will also discuss approach to individual streets such as Curzon Road, Grenside Road, Pine Grove Road and Wey Road. It will be an action filled event and school drop-offs etc will also be discussed.
Surrey’s parking review for Weybridge was up for decision at the Local Committee meeting on 27 June. Cllr Andrew Davis argued that the consultation process should involve more presentation and dialogue with local residents before a set of firm proposals was put forward. He was supported by colleagues across all parties. This resulted in the local committee agreeing that Surrey officers should discuss and amend the proposal in direct consultation with your Weybridge councillors at the end of July.
The construction of a footpath on the north side of the junction of Grotto Road and Thames Street has been on locals’ wish list for years. Now that CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) money is available it is possible for that footway to be installed.
Given the number of children who use this route to both St Georges and St James schools the location is considered one of the most dangerous routes in Weybridge off the main roads.
The project would be to be move the Grotto Road entrance south by the with of one footway on the north side and, to keep the street the same width, move the carriageway south along with the footway on the southern side.
If no utility or other works were in involved the cost would range from £10,000 to £20,000. However, the small tree would have to be moved but it is likely that the pillar box, air pollution station and telephone box could stay. This sum is well within the amount that could be considered by the local CIL spending board.
The big problem is the cable box on the southern footway. It is possible that the box could remain in situ with the path passing on the other side. However, the inspection cover would have to be lowered and not only that if the cables are just below the surface the cabling would have to be lowered as well to take the extra weight and depth of the carriageway. It is most likely (but not certain) that the utility company would have to move the box. The charge for this can be up to £20,000. This is because only the utility company can move the box and they tend to charge what they like. Surrey may not go out to tender to get a lower quote.
There could also be other, yet unknown, utilities affected. So the cost could rise again.
As part of the green would be used for the footway, the owners – probably Paragon Housing would have to be involved. The project could be anything from £10,000 to £50,000 and most likely at the upper end.
Given that the local CIL board regularly gives grants at this level do you think this is a project that you could support?